What is a Notice to Appear?
A Notice to Appear, commonly referred to as an NTA, is a document that instructs an individual to appear before an Immigration judge. This is the first step in starting removal proceedings against them. Essentially, this means that Immigration has put you into Deportation.
The NTA should lay out the facts of your situation, as understood by Immigration, and the alleged violation of Immigration Law with which you are being charged. It is very important that you work with a lawyer who has experience representing clients before the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR). Many lawyers may file immigration forms, but some of those same lawyers have never handled a Deportation case before the EOIR.
Immigration court proceedings are similar to Criminal court proceedings in that there a Judge, and a “prosecutor.” You have the right to counsel, but at no expense to the government. This means that you must pay for your own lawyer. Your case will be in a formal courtroom.
Your first hearing is called a “master calendar” hearing. This is essentially like an arraignment during which the judge will need you to plead to the charges alleged in the NTA. There may be several master hearings until you eventually have an “individual hearing.” The individual hearing is like a trial.
See our other articles on our website about defenses to deportation.